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Recent Publications

“Seafood Has Few Downsides”

Jan 10, 2021

Health experts often advise: “Eat more fish.” The American Heart Association recommends eating fish at least two times per week as part of a healthy diet. As a lean, readily available protein, fish is widely considered a healthy food choice that billions of people around the world rely on for nutrition. Seafood, which includes fish and shellfish, offers health benefits for the general population—including pregnant women and those who are breastfeeding, according to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. In addition to protein, fish provides healthy omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins B12, and E, plus iron, selenium, zinc, and iodine. Fish are also good sources of vitamin D and phosphorus. The guidelines note that eating about 8 ounces of seafood per week is linked to fewer cardiac deaths among people with and without pre-existing cardiovascular disease, based on scientific evidence. However, fish has also been the subject of public health advisories, due to the presence of contaminants that can be harmful to health. Seafood is the main source of human exposure to methylmercury, a powerful neurotoxin. In the United States, 82% of population-wide exposure to methylmercury comes from eating marine seafood and nearly 40% is from fresh and canned tuna. When ingested at high levels, this heavy metal can cause nerve damage in otherwise healthy adults, young children, and during fetal development. The fish with the highest mercury levels include king mackerel, marlin, shark, swordfish, bigeye tuna, and tilefish. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines recommend that pregnant women eat 8 to 12 ounces of fish (the kind with lower mercury levels) per week and that adults, in general, eat at least 8 ounces per week.

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“Sleep Linked to Good Mental Health”

Jan 03, 2021

We sleep for 1/3 of our lifetimes or about 24.9 years. People who cannot sleep, die. Rats die after about 17 days of total sleep deprivation. A new study, published in Frontiers in Psychology, found that future lifestyle interventions targeting sleep quality may be most beneficial at improving mental health and wellbeing. Young adults should prioritize getting good quality sleep, but they also stress the importance of eating well and exercising often since “physical activity and diet” are secondary but still significant factors. The study ranked sleep, physical activity and diet as influencers of good mental health. Sleep, physical activity, and a healthy diet can be thought of as three pillars of health, which could contribute to promoting optimal well-being among young adults. Sleep quality outranked them all as the strongest predictor of good mental health. People who slept close to 10 hours per night reported fewer depressive symptoms, but not enough (<8 h) or too much sleep (>12 h) had people reporting more symptoms of depression. Eating moderate servings of raw fruit and veggies each day also correlated with better wellbeing. Some previous research suggests healthy behaviors such as eating well or exercising often can have a synergistic effect on wellbeing. Researchers have shown no adverse effect of nighttime exercise on sleep. In fact, exercise and sleep can be mutually beneficial. Disrupted sleep has been linked to poor mental health before, including depression and other mood disorders.

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“COVID-19 Claimed to Be Number One Cause of Death in America”

Dec 27, 2020

According to an editorial published Thursday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, COVID-19 is now the leading cause of death in the United States. Current daily mortality rates to show that COVID-19 has now surpassed heart disease and cancer as the leading daily cause of death in the U.S. Heart disease and cancer, which have been the leading causes of death for decades, cause approximately 1,700 and 1,600 deaths per day, respectively. But since November, the weekly average for daily COVID-19 deaths has tripled, from 826 to 2,430 deaths per day. One American is dying of COVID-19 every 40 seconds now. Steven Woolf, M.D., director emeritus of VCU’s Center on Society and Health, said “It’s a tragic milestone we could’ve prevented. Looking ahead offers the hope of the vaccine, but it’s not coming fast enough to save the people who are dying now.” Woolf also said, “It’s urgent for Americans to get serious about wearing masks, social distancing and avoiding large gatherings, or else we’re going to see more alarming numbers and COVID-19 will remain a leading cause of death for far too long.” Personally, I feel we have been given these directives to create a false sense of security.

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“Aging Partially Reversed Using Hyperbaric Oxygen”

Dec 20, 2020

In a first, scientists say they have partially reversed a cellular aging process in humans. Every time a cell inside your body replicates there is a shortening of telomeres, structures that ‘cap’ the tips of our chromosomes. Now, scientists in Israel say they have been able to reverse this process and extend the length of telomeres in a small study involving 26 patients. In this study, the researchers were able to show that the genetic changes provoked by hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) has extended telomeres, and also had a potentially positive effect on the health of the tissues themselves. It is an impressive claim – and something many other researchers have attempted in the past without success. But of course, it is worth noting that this is a small sample size, and the results will need to be replicated before we can get too excited. Researcher Shair Efrati, a physician from the Faculty of Medicine and Sagol School of Neuroscience at Tel Aviv University, said, “After the twin experiment was done by NASA, where one of the twins was sent out to the outer space and the other stayed on Earth, demonstrated a significant difference in their telomere length we have realized that changes in the outside environment may affect the core cellular changes that happen along with aging.”

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“Dementia And How To Help Prevent It”

Dec 06, 2020

A new case of dementia is diagnosed every 70 seconds and there is currently no cure or treatments to prevent or cure it. The WHO estimates there are about 50 million people across the globe living with dementia, with nearly 10 million cases being added each year. Approximately 5.8 million Americans age 65 and older currently have the disease, and nearly two-thirds of those are women. It’s the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. It is expected to skyrocket as the US population ages. Over 16 million Americans care for people with Alzheimer’s (AD) or other dementias, without pay. Patients with diabetes have a three-fold higher risk for developing dementia, particularly women. Likewise, vascular disease has been shown to be associated with the development of dementia syndromes. Almost half of all dementia cases can be attributed to a small number of modifiable lifestyle risk factors, including smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity. Here are four simple ways that you can improve your brain health.

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“The Multivitamin Myth”

Nov 29, 2020

About one-third of Americans routinely take multivitamins in the belief that they contribute to good health. The real concern is that people are wasting money on multivitamins that would better benefit their health if spent elsewhere. As Will Rogers said, “It’s about spending money you don’t have for something you don’t need.” Most experts seriously doubt the “claimed benefits” of these multivitamin supplements and they have found the harmful potential of many of them, including multivitamins. Cases in point, new studies have linked heavy multivitamin use to fatal prostate cancer, increased breast tissue density (associated with breast cancer), and increased allergies and asthma in children. Cancer experts say multivitamins are far less effective than a good diet, exercise and not smoking, each of which can lower cancer risk by 20% to 30%. Research has shown that the best way to obtain the nutrients and minerals you need is through food. When vitamins and minerals have been studied independent of a food, they don’t have the same benefit. Still, U.S. adults who regularly take multivitamins self-reported 30% better overall health than people who don’t use the supplements. However, a comprehensive medical history—assessing dozens of physical and mental illnesses—revealed zero actual health differences between people who did or did not take multivitamins. So, the effect seems to be a placebo or all in their head. Prior studies have found little evidence to support any benefit from multivitamins for an array of health problems ranging from heart disease to cancer.

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“Diet Drink Dilemma”

Nov 22, 2020

Diet beverages are marketed as healthier, less harmful alternatives to their sugary soda counterparts. People drink diet sodas to help cut calories and to avoid the well-known downsides of too much real sugar. Soda is one of the most demonized junk foods in the United States, topping just about every list of things to avoid for a healthier life. But are these “healthier” alternatives really all they’re advertised to be? Sugary sodas are among the most aggressively marketed beverage products on the planet. Coke and Pepsi, for example, together spent about half a billion dollars to advertise their namesake products to US consumers in 2019. In 2020, the average American will drink about 149 liters of carbonated soft drinks—that’s nearly 40 gallons. Such high levels of consumption earned soda companies $133.7 billion, or an average of $404 from every US consumer in 2019. However, an excess of sugar-sweetened beverages can wreak havoc on health, and lead to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, gout, decreased bone health, and cavities, among other ill effects. Six sugar substitutes are included on the FDA’s Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) list, and approved for use in food: aspartame, sucralose, saccharine, neotame, advantame, and acesulfame potassium-k. The plant-derived sweetener stevia gets mixed reviews from the FDA. But are the artificially sweetened drinks safe?

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“Interesting Facts About Aging”

Nov 15, 2020

Overall, most of the myths surrounding age seem to center on inevitability. People believe that it is inevitable that they will gradually deteriorate into dust as their lives become increasingly unbearable, boring, passionless, and painful. But, admittedly, certain aspects of health do decline with age. Examples of aging-associated diseases are atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease, cancer, arthritis, cataracts, osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes, hypertension and Alzheimer’s disease. The incidence of all of these diseases increases exponentially with age. Physiological changes occur with aging in all organ systems. The cardiac output decreases, blood pressure increases, and arteriosclerosis develops. The lungs show impaired gas exchange, a decrease in vital capacity and slower expiratory flow rates. When you reach your sixties, your skin turns drier and itchier and may look like crepe paper or tissue. Wrinkles, age spots, creases, and bruises become more noticeable. Your sweat glands also get less active. That means you might not sweat as much, but wounds on your skin may take longer to heal. Also, certain things can cause us to age faster. Hormone changes, environmental factors, genetics, and your diet all play a role in how quickly we age. Cardiovascular disease remains the most common cause of death of older adults, although death rates have dropped in the last 20 years. At what age are we considered “old?” A typical woman in the United States is old at age 73, and a typical man at age 70.

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“Tylenol Issues Poisoning Warnings”

Nov 08, 2020

Each year, about 100 million Americans use Tylenol (acetaminophen) and it can be found in more than 600 over-the-counter and prescription products used by nearly one in four Americans every week, including Nyquil cold formula, Panadol, Excedrin pain tablets, and Sudafed sinus pills. This drug can be used very safely to treat minor aches, pains, and fevers in the short-term. However, over the past few decades, unintentional overdoses from acetaminophen have been on the rise in many nations. New research from Switzerland suggests a higher dose of acetaminophen makes it easier for people to accidentally poison themselves, and while this doesn’t often lead to death (we have an effective antidote), it can cause severe liver damage. In 2003, most over-the-counter (OTC) tablets in Switzerland contained roughly 500 milligrams of acetaminophen. But in 2003, the nation introduced a prescription-only tablet containing 1,000 mg of the drug, which quickly became popular and was associated with overdoses. Many people don’t realize that each pill of acetaminophen you swallow adds up in the body. This means taking just a few extra 1,000 milligram tablets can put you at risk of an overdose, easily exceeding the 4,000 recommended milligrams a day for adults.  For that very reason, in 2008, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended limiting an adult dose to two tablets containing 325 mg of acetaminophen, with a boxed warning about how toxic byproducts form.

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“Prevagen’s Improved Memory Claims are Misleading”

Nov 01, 2020

In the absence of a simple answer to the complex problem of dementia and cognitive decline, unproven “brain boosters” like Prevagen continue to see widespread commercial success. So, we need an honest scientific interpretation of the evidence. Dementia refers to a loss of brain function that interferes with daily living and is beyond what can be attributed to normal aging. In 1906, German physician, Alois Alzheimer identified this debilitating dementia, which will claim one in 10 baby boomers. This results in annual costs of $148 billion. Women, African-Americans and Hispanics are at an increased risk, as are those with diabetes and heart disease. Fear of these dreaded diseases has created a $2 billion per year industry and the internet is abuzz with advertisements claiming to improve your brain function. Also known as “smart drugs” and “cognitive enhancers,” nootropics are any substances designed or purported to enhance cognition, including memory, attention, creativity, or overall intelligence.

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